The Yankees reportedly rejected a trade that could have brought outfielders Jason Heyward and Melvin Upton to New York, according to Jon Heyman.
New York expressed interest in Heyward and shortstop Andrelton Simmons when they were with the Atlanta Braves in 2014, Heyman reports, and turned down a blockbuster that would have sent several top prospects to Atlanta.
The Braves floated a deal to the Yankees that would have sent Heyward, Simmons, Upton, RHP David Carpenter and 3B Chris Johnson to New York in exchange for RHP Luis Severino, OF Aaron Judge, catcher Gary Sanchez, RHP Ian Clarkin and RHP Manny Banuelos.
GM Brian Cashman, who had been reluctant to deal top prospects this offseason, did not pull the trigger. This past November, the Braves asked for Severino in a potential trade for RHP Shelby Miller, whom the Braves received in a trade for Heyward in November 2014.
The Yankees and Braves did actually complete a trade before last season: Carpenter and LHP Chasen Shreve for Banuelos.
And this past December, the Braves traded Miller and LHP Gabe Speier to the Arizona Diamondbacks for top prospect SS Dansby Swanson, RHP Aaron Blair and OF Ender Inciarte.
Heyward is now with the Chicago Cubs after signing an eight-year, $184 million deal this offseason, and Simmons was traded to the Los Angeles Angels.
As for the Yankees' prospects: Severino went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 11 major-league starts last year after a mid-season promotion. Judge and Sanchez have both been ranked among New York's top prospects in several offseason lists. Clarkin is considered the Yankees' No. 5 prospect, according to Keith Law.
I look at this deal knowing what I know now and I just laugh that the trade was even entertained by the Yankees. Push the rewind button to the moment in time, and I have to say I don't feel much differently.
The players that would have come from the Braves each had their own issues which might have prevented the Yankees from pulling the trigger.
Heyward was going to be one year away from free agency, and what would the Yankees do with Carlos Beltran? They wouldn't have been able to simply push him to designated hitter because Alex Rodriguez was coming back from his suspension. Rodriguez and Beltran made $37 million in 2015; that's not optimal from a club's perspective for part-time work.
Simmons would have been an upgrade defensively over Didi Gregorius, whom the club ended up with by sacrificing lesser players. Plus, the fielding upgrade is not extreme, as Gregorius has shown to be quite good at shortstop, and I believe he is still growing at the plate. Simmons is mostly a glove in my opinion.
Johnson would have been a much cheaper option than Chase Headley, but the production level at the plate (.653 OPS in 2014) would not have been the same, and Headley would have been considered a better fielding third baseman at the time.
Carpenter ended up being the only player of the group coming to the Yankees that winter for Banuelos, and New York also ended up with Shreve in the deal. Carpenter is gone and Shreve is not.
Upton might have been the fourth outfielder (instead of Chris Young) for a cool $15.05 million with another $33.1 million left on his deal through 2017. For a fourth outfielder? Unless the Braves were going to pay 80-90 percent of that salary, I'm not certain about how he would have helped the club without being a complete drain on the payroll.
The Yankees seemed to know that something special was going to happen with Severino and Judge. They might have been souring on Sanchez's slow development at the time. Banuelos was considered a crapshoot at that point due to his sluggish growth and injury history. Clarkin was viewed as another top starting option, but completely new to the club's dynamic (drafted in 2013).
Now, fast-forward: Severino is considered a budding ace; Judge is potentially one year away from being the full-time right fielder; and Sanchez could be the backup catcher as early as this season. The Yankees were well into their methodology of keeping their prospects for the long term financial health of the roster.
Looking at this with or without hindsight, it seems this was a good non-move by the Yankees.